Following the confirmation of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the Federal Government has advised states to take measures that will curb further spread of the pandemic. The measures include closing all bars, nightclubs, and restaurants across the country. At the same time, all informal and formal events, including weddings, conferences, congresses, office parties, concerts, seminars, sporting activities, end of year events have also been limited to not more than 50 persons.
Similarly, public transportation systems are expected to convey not more than 50 per cent of their capacity in compliance with social distancing rules. In the same vein, all government officials on Grade Level 12 and above are advised to stay at home for the next five weeks, while schools should remain closed till at least January 18, 2021.
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who outlined the directives, explained that the new guidelines were part of measures to limit the spread of the virus.
We commend the government for taking the new measures to curb the spread of the disease. Such measures have become necessary following the rising cases of the diseases as well as increasing deaths arising from the second wave of the pandemic. As at December 25, 2020, Nigeria recorded 712 new confirmed cases and four deaths. So far, 82,747 cases had been confirmed, 70,239 discharged and 1,246 deaths recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The statistics might be higher considering our low testing capacities and low level of literacy among the citizens. A week earlier, Nigeria reportedly recorded more new COVID-19 cases than at any other week since the first case of the virus was registered in the country in February 2020. Due to the spike in the number of cases being recorded, many states like Lagos and Kaduna had already introduced new restrictions to check the spread of the virus, even before the Federal Government’s advisory.
The second wave of the pandemic has led to more deaths in Europe and America. Though vaccines have been produced to tackle the virus, there is no doubt that these may take time to get to this part of the world. The only way out is keeping to the established safety protocols put in place by the PTF. Government must ensure that citizens comply with prescribed rules such as social distancing, hand washing and wearing face masks at public gatherings.
It is lamentable that many Nigerians no longer observe the safety protocols, especially in worship centres, social gatherings and markets. The breaching of the safety protocols and inadequate health facilities may account for the spread of the disease. Therefore, we urge the government and citizens to take responsibility and curb the spread of the pandemic.
The second wave of the pandemic appears to be more deadly, especially with the discovery of the variant of the virus mutating in the United Kingdom (UK) and other parts of the world. In Nigeria, the situation gets scarier as it coincides with the yuletide period when people travel and interact more with others. The new specie of the disease spreads faster, forcing countries to take desperate measures to contain it. England, Portugal and Hungary are among nations that are under a second lockdown.
We enjoin state governments to enforce the stipulated safety protocols. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to stem the spread of the pandemic. However, the Federal Government should ensure that the COVID-19 vaccines are available to Nigerians.
COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world for nearly a year. It has also exposed the poor health systems in developing countries. Since there is so much ignorance about the pandemic in the country, we urge the government to embark on more public enlightenment about the disease and how to prevent it. The government should also activate the COVID-19 isolation centres across the country to manage those with the condition. Every effort to keep the virus at bay must be encouraged.